John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has made a statement in the Commons following the disruption of a television interview earlier today where Brexit supporters called Anna Soubry “a Nazi”. Bercow said:
“I have indeed been made aware of recent incidents involving aggressive and threatening behaviour towards Members and others by assorted protesters who have donned the yellow vests used in France. When I refer to “recent incidents”, I am more specifically referring to reports I have had of incidents that have taken place today, in all likelihood when many of us, myself included, have been in this Chamber. The House authorities are not technically responsible for the safety of Members off the estate—that is and remains a matter for the Metropolitan police—but naturally, I take this issue very seriously and so, I am sure, do the police, who have been made well aware of our concerns.”
The protesters are also alleged to have said that they hoped Soubry and Kay Burley, a Sky interviewer, were sexually assaulted.
Soubry said during the interview with Burley:
“I don’t have a problem with people demonstrating and making their views heard. I have a real problem with people who call me a traitor or ‘Soubry, you Nazi’. That is a criminal offence and I’m a criminal barrister. I’m also a lass from Worksop, so I don’t get scared by these people or intimidated. I was a reporter during the miners’ strike, so I don’t feel physically intimidated. My difficulty is I want to respond and you mustn’t, so I’m really behaving myself.”
“Liam Fox’s speech this week was very worrying; in fact, it was delusional. How can we have ‘freer’ free trade? Let’s get real, for God’s sake. It’s really worrying that these are the senior people who have the future of our country in their hands. May is the voice of sanity, and without her I don’t know where the three Brexiteers would take us.”
“It’s for her not to rely on Boris, Liam and David. She has to come forward and she has to tell us what those guiding principles, what the plan, is”.
Fox had the week before criticised the UK’s business sector, saying:
“This country is not the free-trading nation it once was. We have become too lazy, and too fat on our successes in previous generations”.
The UK department store BHS is to be placed into liquidation after no viable buyer was found. 163 BHS shops will close in the next few weeks with 11,000 jobs expected to be lost.
Anna Soubry, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise said:
“Today’s announcement that the administrators have been unable to find a buyer for the business will be devastating news for all those who work at BHS and those in the supply chain. The government stands ready to support workers to find new jobs as quickly as possible.
The Business Secretary has already announced an accelerated Insolvency Service investigation into the activity of former BHS directors. Any issues of misconduct will be taken extremely seriously”.
Anna Soubry, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, has said in a Commons statement that the Government will do what it can to help BHS staff.
The administrators confirmed today that the stores would remain open for the moment after fears that the 164 shops would shut. There are 11,000 workers who fear for their jobs and a substantial pension scheme deficit which is in question.
“Today – and the last few days of media speculation – as I say have been particularly troubling for BHS’s workers and their families. There is a clear message going out to all staff today, and that is that BHS is still open for business as usual. There are no plans for immediate redundancies or store closures, and that the administrators are looking to sell BHS as a going concern.
If this proves not to be possible, then the Government will obviously stand ready to offer its assistance, including through Jobcentre Plus’ Rapid Response Service, to help people move into new jobs as quickly as possible.
Now there has been a lot of comment and speculation about the BHS pension scheme. It is the fact the pension regulator is investigating a number of concerns and indeed allegations. I understand the BHS scheme is in the early stage of a Pension Protection Fund (PPF) assessment, during which time the PPF will determine the final funding position of the scheme and whether it should assume responsibility for it”.
Angela Eagle, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, questioned the involvement of Philip Green, the former owner. Eagle said in the Commons:
“BHS staff and the public will understandably want to know whether the former owner who took so many millions of pounds out of the business will have to pay his fair share of the liabilities accrued during his stewardship”.
Anna Soubry, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, has said that local councils will have the power to offer extended Sunday hours to businesses. The measures are hoped to give local councils the ability to encourage customers to particular high streets and give local retailers more flexibility.
“Extending Sunday shopping hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets better compete as our shopping habits change.
The rights of shop workers are key to making these changes work in everyone’s interests. We are protecting those who do not wish to work Sundays, and those who do not want to work more than their normal Sunday working hours”.